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Political Economics

Political economics is an interdisciplinary field focusing on the nonmarket, collective, and political activity of individuals and organizations.

The PhD Program in political economics prepares students for research and teaching positions by providing rigorous training in theoretical and empirical techniques. The intellectual foundations of the program are rational choice theory, positive political theory, theories of collective action, institutional analysis, and analysis of political competition and equilibrium.

Students become involved in research early in the program. They begin their own research during the first year and are required to write research papers during the summers following the first and second years. The program is flexible and allows ample opportunity to tailor coursework and research to individual interests. The program is small by design to promote close interaction between students and faculty.

Fields of Inquiry

Specific fields of inquiry include:

  • Regulation
  • Distributive politics
  • Elections
  • Corporate politics
  • Political participation and collective action
  • Interest groups
  • Constitutional choice
  • Legislative behavior and organization
  • Judicial institutions
  • Bureaucracies
  • Comparative institutions
  • Cooperative political economy
  • Macro political economy
  • Law and economics
  • Business and government

The orientation to these topics tends to be positive rather than normative.

Cross-campus Collaboration

The program, embedded in the larger community of political economics scholars at Stanford University, combines the resources of Stanford GSB with opportunities to study in the Departments of Economics and Political Science.

Drawing on the offerings of all three units, students have a unique opportunity to combine the strengths of economic methods and analytical political science and to apply them to the study of collective action, political institutions, and public policy. The program involves coursework in economic theory, econometrics, game theory, political theory, and theories of institutions and organizations.